Welcome to Kejimkujik National Park and Historic Site.
Located in Annapolis County, Nova Scotia, it was established in 1968.
A place where the blue sky and the dark water meet, the shoreline of Kejimkujik Lake is a great place to spot native wildlife.
At Heber Beach a deer grazes, while a snapping turtle basks in the sun.
But of all animals in this park, one reptile has a special following.
The Blandings turtle.
With a dedicated group of volunteers, led by Norm Green, groups monitor six nesting areas at Kejimkujik.
And we've been coming to Kejimkujik since 1979.
Spent the first 20 years, I guess, just enjoying the park.
We started with the Blandings in 2000, so this would be our eleventh year.
I think volunteering is a good thing to do, whether it's protecting an endangered species, helping the environment, or volunteering in any other important social cause.
Each spring, volunteers will follow the female turtle in her search for a suitable nest.
Well, I think it's partially the turtle, but I think it's a lot to do with the volunteer program.
And it's a large program with a lot of volunteers, so people get to meet a lot of people that become their friends, and it's a very social group.
This mother with travel across Kejimkujik Lake to the Southwestern-facing beaches.
It looks like this mother has chosen Atkins Island.
Coordinated by Parks Canada Stewardship Biologist Duncan Smith, volunteers will search the beaches in hopes to find nesting turtles.
To protect the Blandings, what we do is nest protection.
And we have over a hundred volunteers that do that within the park and in the community.
They also help out with visual surveys, trapping surveys, and then even radio tracking.
The mother must choose her nest carefully, as the process will take several hours while nesting, her eggs are vulnerable to her main predator: the raccoon.
The main predator of the Blandings turtle is raccoon. It's definitely the top one.
It eats the eggs, it eats the young. It'll even eat adults if it can.
It appears this mother has chosen her spot.
She will plant her front legs for this entire process to ensure she stays attached to the nest.
When she has completed digging the nest, she will prepare herself for the first contraction by extending her neck.
She's done it. She will lay anywhere from six to 16 eggs.
When released, the eggs will have a texture similar to leather.
While adjusting the eggs to ensure a safe exit for her young, the eggs sound like small rocks being rubbed together.
Every year, the Parks Canada species at risk program collects several nests for incubation and raising in captivity.
For captive rearing, what we do, we have about 120 volunteers, and some of them are actually trained to collect eggs.
If we're going to collect eggs, we actually collect that nest on-site and those eggs go to Oaklawn Farm Zoo.
When she has laid all of her eggs, she will use her hand legs to filling the nest.
After the hole is full, she will begin to conceal her nest.
First she will level the ground by stomping her feet.
Then, using every inch of her body, she will pull rocks over the nest location.
She is done, but very tired. The long walk back to the water will be slow and the rest well-deserved.
She has done her best to give her young a chance.
Shortly after she has left, Parks employees will place an enclosure around the new nest.
What's interesting about captive rearing is typically a nest will take, in the wild, about 80 to 90 days to incubate.
But with the rearing program, we can adjust temperatures.
And because it's a constant temperature, it takes more like 60.
Breaking through the shell will be difficult, but if they succeed, they will have the strength needed to survive.
Feeding from a yolk sack, they must to absorb this first, before being placed into an aquarium.
Last year we got about a hundred turtles out of the captive rearing program.
We're looking at around the same this year.
So we're looking at a huge introduction of captively-reared turtles in a couple years, which is going to really help the population.
If you're interested in environmental conservation and you want to do something real that's helpful,
I would encourage you to give us a call.
Because what we're looking for you to do is come on down and leave your mark on conservation.
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